Irwin Gordon - 02/06/2009

This is the steamship passenger manifest of my grandfather, Edward Cutler (nee Idel KOTLER), z"l, his brother Al (nee Isaac KOTLER) and their mother, Henne. They arrived in New York City aboard the SS Kherson on June 11, 1908, and are listed on Lines 13 through 15.

Their forwarding address is listed as 2628 "Fonzeth" Street in Brooklyn, NY. Was this the actual name of the street, and if not, then does anyone know what it was? Could this possibly be a misspelling for Forsyth?

Irwin Gordon
Putnam Lake, New York

Note: Please respond in the comment section below


  1. Hi Irwin,

    if you have access to, try looking for Nathan Cohen in the 1908 Brooklyn City Directory (Brooklyn may be separate from NYC) otherwise try contacting the reference librarian at the nearest city or university and see if they have the microfilmed set of U.S. city Directories and if you can use the set.

    best of luck,

    Batya Olsen

  2. Hello, Batya:

    Thank you for your reply and suggestions. I realized just after my query was posted on the message board that I already possessed the answer.

    My grandfather’s father, Morris (Moishe-Aharon) KOTLER arrived in New York City, two years before my grandfather and his mother, aboard the SS New York on February 25, 1906, Line 16 on the passenger list manifest. His forwarding address was 30 Thatford Avenue in Brooklyn.

    There were two distinct problems with my grandfather’s address as listed in his 1908 Passenger List. Firstly, the house number was misread as one number, “2628,” when it should be properly read as “26-28.” From the outset, a four-digit number for any address located on a small street is unusually too high. Additionally, these were consecutive, even numbers. As such, the dash in two of the three entries is barely visible under magnification.

    Secondly, “Fonzeth/Forseth” is ultimately both a distortion and transposition of “Thatford.” Only one of the three entries in the middle correctly reflects this. This confusion was further complicated by the fact that:

    a) a hand-scripted, capital-letter T looks like an uncrossed F, and b) vice-versa. Moreover, c) both syllables begin with both and T and F, d) with the D elided away, and e) confused with its counterpart dental T/TH. In effect, f) the “Z” represented both a D and T, as if read like the Polish diphthong DZ, complicated by the fact that, g) Yiddish-speakers have obvious difficulty pronouncing the diphthong TH, just as Americans cannot distinctly pronounce the diphthong DZ. Furthermore, to complicate matters, h) both the TH and T within “That” in “Thatford” were in themselves transposed. Lastly, i) lower-case handwriting R often looks like a lower-case N, and j) the E is really an A. Hence, the complete and correct home address for this building was 26-28-30 Thatford Avenue in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

    Even native English-speakers will accidentally confuse “than” with “that,” both in everyday speech and in writing. In effect, to use a 1970s popular culture television situation-comedy analogy, the actual street name looks closer to Sanford & Son, and its parallel “interpretation” looks closer to the Fonz, all of this while Ford was President! Take That!

    Likewise, there is a clear example where one building can easily contain three consecutive (even) address numbers separated by a dash or comma. One example is an advertisement in the 1897 Brooklyn City Directory, page 40, where the New York Store Fixture Company’s address is listed as “152, 154, 156 Bank Street” in Manhattan. This is confirmed in its accompanying alphabetical listing in the 1897 Manhattan City Directory.

    Additionally, my bubbie’s uncle, Motl (Max BARRIS) owned a candy and newspaper stand, and the 1918-1921 Manhattan City Directory entries list his business address as “both” 65-67 Norfolk Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side (a shul was located next-door at 63 Norfolk Street), indicating either two entrances, or a distinct entrance and exit.

    House numbers with dashes are commonplace in Queens, but in those instances, the first two or three digits before the dash conveniently represent the corresponding cross street or avenue.

    I have not yet checked Nathan or Saul Cohen’s home address(es) in the 1905-1909 Brooklyn City Directories at the New York Public Library – Newspaper Division, or Brooklyn Public Library – Grand Army Plaza, which should confirm this conclusion. Brooklyn and Manhattan city directories are quite distinct, but those for Manhattan and the Bronx are often combined into one, rather than in separate volumes. Unfortunately, these combined locations/years are not yet available online via

    Best regards,



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